A player's exploits for the League1 Ontario side Woodbridge Strikers has landed her a contract to play soccer in Germany's Bundesliga II.
Christabel Oduro, who scored five goals en route to the Strikers current third place standing, and has been a calming influence for the team's younger players, was signed by Herforder SV of the Bundesliga II women's division just in time to kick off their season on Aug. 12. Oduro, a Brampton native, flew over Aug. 10.
The 22-year-old forward has been a standout for years, playing for Canada at the under-18, under-20 and full international level. She also shone at the University of Memphis, where she collected numerous honours as a goal-scoring leader at the U.S. collegiate level. She was also chosen as a 2015 Mid-Season League1 Ontario All-Star.
She said she's excited to play in Germany.
"I'm very lucky to be able to pursue my dreams as a pro soccer player. College and League1 were excellent platforms to get me to where I am now," she said.
Oduro added that League1 really helped her prepare for the pro game.
"It helped with my confidence on the ball, as well as developing my leadership skills. I was playing with a bit of a younger team and personally I just wanted to be as good of a role model as I could in order to help them take their game to the next level," she said.
One of her coaches with Woodbridge, and at the Canadian national team level in the past, Joe Parolini was excited to have Oduro play for the Strikers during this inaugural season of League1 women's play.
"We knew there was a chance for Christabel to go to Germany, but also for her to be a senior mentor to our 1998 and 1999 (born) players," he said.
"She was a very good mentor for the younger players. She talked to them on and even off the field, so it made a really solid difference (having her here)," Parolini added.
Playing on the wing for the Strikers, Oduro was able to notch five goals that, combined with Canada-under 17 standout Jessica Lisi's eleven goals, and another eight goals from Chanel Hudson-Marks (now off to the University of Memphis), has propelled the Strikers to a current third place in the league.
Parolini said Oduro did, "exactly what we needed, and she helped the other players do what they needed to do as well - to slow the play down, and be patient. To top it off, she pocketed five goals too."
Oduro said League1 is a good league for young women to develop their skills.
"In terms of quality there is a lot of raw talent in the league that's really exciting to play with, and against," she said. "Some kids have a tonne of potential to make some noise, whether in college or on the national stage."
Parolini has confidence that Oduro, who has been playing soccer for fifteen years and was a high school star at St. Thomas Aquinas in Brampton before heading to Memphis, will thrive in Germany.
"I'm not as familiar with the German second division, but experience-wise, she'll do fine."
He said Oduro, who made her international debut as a 17 year-old in 2009, and was part of the fourth-place Canadian team at the CONCACAF women's Under-20 Championship in Guatemala in 2010, is trying to get back to regular play in the senior side.
Oduro was on track to be a senior regular as she won a silver medal with Canada at the 2012 CONCACAF women's Under-20 championship in Panama, and played for Canada at the FIFA U-20 women’s World Cup in Japan.
At just 20, she made her debut for John Herdman and the Canadian full international team on Jan. 12, 2013, but has played just four more games for Canada since then.
For Parolini, playing in Germany could be the ticket to Oduro getting back into the national pool.
"She's still young, and like any of our players that are all trying to get back into the national pool, if she plays well in the (German) second division the first-division teams will find out."
Oduro is hoping her play in Germany will help get her noticed at the national level again.
"I can only hope so. Playing in one of the best footballing nations in the world always looks pretty good on a player's resume so I'll be pushing myself to get better in order to give myself a chance," she said.